Joe Hunn and Engineers Without Borders Give Back to Peru

By Clinton Snider

In the remote village of La Huaylla, Peru, located over 300 miles south of Cusco, Peru, access to water is not guaranteed. Located near the top of the Andes mountains, the citizens deal with limited access to water, and their current system doesn’t have the capacity to meet water needs for daily activities like drinking and bathing in the village. Joe Hunn, PE, VP of Cotter’s Transportation Group, recently joined the University of California-Davis chapter of Engineers Without Borders as a student mentor for the program, who have been working for three years on the water access project in La Huaylla.

The recent trip to La Huaylla marks the third year of a 4-year long project that will ensure the community of 250 households has access to water. Joe spent two weeks with the UC-Davis team, there for a total of 10 weeks, battling the heat, terrain, and limited water access to build a new water reservoir and other needed elements of the water system. Joe mentored and taught the students about construction in a remote area, which he experienced first-hand when he traveled to Honduras with Engineers without Borders on a similar trip in 2011 and 2016.

The team was on the construction site from sun up to sundown performing the physical work on the project, and with the help of a local contractor, increased the water supply capacity. They took on the challenges of getting materials on site, which is difficult due to the remoteness of the village, and performing the work, such as building forms, mixing and pouring concrete, and cutting and bending rebar, by hand.

Joe and the students also met with the local municipality engineer to ensure local officials were a part of the planning and construction process. The team did community outreach by teaching the local grade school and middle school students about proper sanitation practices and water use and, of course, after the weekly lessons they played soccer with the students.

Next year, Joe and the Engineers with Borders group will be returning to La Huaylla to replace the aging, leaking pipe lines from the collection point at the top of the mountain to the community and providing taps into each household. Joe takes pride in his role in ensuring a better quality of life for the community for generations to come.